“Side Effects of Success I”

Defeating Goliath and winning the victory for Israel put David in a different category; practically within minutes he went from being an unknown young shepherd to being a famous, loved, and feared warrior. The Bible gives us an insight on the story:

“When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. This was their song:
“Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!”.” (I Samuel 18:6 & 7)

Success is often accompanied by initial good reports, the love of the people, and recognition. Normal people enjoy watching someone succeed, they rejoice when someone makes it big; when that success, like in the case of young David, affects their lives positively and gives them hope, they fall in love and bestow their respect and recognition on their champion. All of these happened to David. Yet there are some other side effects which come about, just about every time there is success.

“This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.” (I Samuel 18: 8-11)

As soon as David defeated Goliath something changed; in the eyes of Saul, David stopped being the cute and courageous little David and became the threat, the competition, the object of jealousy and envy. Success often generates dislike, rejection, and enmity in the people who are insecure, less successful or not successful at all. There was nothing David could do to change this, well perhaps he could do one thing, stop being successful and Saul would have liked him again. Saul was perfectly fine with a young man, who needed his help but he could not recognize David as a full fledge leader. Saul had no problem with feeding David at his table, even making him part of the family, as long as he could patronize him and treat him like a kid. Saul was OK being David’s mentor, but he was not ready to be David’s colleague.

This was the perfect time for Saul to empower David and work together with him to make their common cause stronger and put their foes away for good. When Saul was by himself, he killed 1,000; now with David killing 10,000, there was no enemy who could stand against Israel; between the two they could put away 11,000 enemies. Saul failed to realized that David was an awesome blessing to him and to the nation. From the time David defeated Goliath and for the rest of his life, Saul wasted his energies persecuting and attempting against a friend, and the greatest talent that nation had seen in a long time. He did everything possible to ensure David would never reach the throne, while David played the harp for him and fought thousands to keep the King and the entire nation free and protected. Even, when Saul promoted David, the secret strategy behind the promotion was that David would get killed in the fulfillment of his faithful duty. Perhaps, if Saul had embraced David and kept him by his side, rather than persecuting him, Saul would not have died at the hands of his enemies, most likely, he could have died of old age, as a statesman of his nation. Today, Saul is remembered as the bad monarch who tried to kill the best and most loved king Israel ever had, David.

Through our lifetime, at some point, many of us will be tempted to do what Saul did in our spheres of influence. When that temptation comes, remember:

1. A successful person next to you, does not devalue your worth but increases your effectiveness.
2. If God is blessing someone, it does not matter what you do or try to do, that person will prosper and continue to succeed, despite your efforts.
3. You have great gifts and abilities, they are much needed, don’t waste them fighting a friend who can help you.
4. Empower someone and pass on the baton while you can still run; your legacy can outlast your life, through the people you equip.

If you are living in a stage similar to David’s, keep in mind, your life is not in the hands of Saul, though he may think so. Your life is in the hands of God, and God wants the best for you in spite of Saul. My best advise is that you continue to do what David did:

“David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him….all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful…” (I Samuel 18: 14 and part of 16)

Prayer: My dear Lord, thanks for the blessings, success, and prosperity you have given me. Please, keep your blessings coming and help me to always remember that my life is in your hands. I don’t ever want to be like Saul, give me the strength to fight that temptation when it comes. Help me to always appreciate, embrace, and team-work with those who do well, even if they can do better than me. Thank you, AMEN.
Jose